Spotlight on: Mentor Cardinals
Location: Mentor, Ohio
Group: Ohio Division I
By Andre Coles
When one thinks of Ohio Division I football powers in recent history, the Mentor Cardinals are usually at the top of everyone’s list.
The Cardinals are only the fourth team in history to have made back-to-back championship appearances, although they dropped both of those contests.
In both of those trips to Canton, the Cardinals faced very tough opponents. In 2006, the Cardinals defeated Canton McKinley, 18-13, for the right to face undefeated Hilliard Davidson in the title contest.
Head coach Steve Trivisonno led the 13-1 Cardinals into the game with hopes of taking down Davidson, a powerhouse squad at the time. Although the Cardinals put forth their best effort, they fell short in double overtime, 36-35.
The Cardinals used the valuable knowledge and experience gained from the ‘06 season to climb their way back to the Div. I title game the following year.
This time, the Cardinals clawed their way through a brutal stretch in the Division playoffs for the right to face another undefeated state power, this time Saint Xavier. But the Cardinals were no match for a stellar Bombers squad, and fell, 27-0.
Even though the Cardinals dropped both of these pinnacle contests, the Mentor program appears to be knocking on the door every year under the guidance of Trivisonno, and will likely so do for many more years to come.
Trivisonno is currently in his 11th season as head coach and has established a winning tradition at Mentor. Overall, he has compiled a record of 86-37, which includes the two playoff runs and title game appearances.
But to put in perspective just how special these 86 wins are, consider this. At the end of the ‘08 season, the Cardinals will not have played one team with a losing record. This is a tribute to how difficult it is to win in Div. I and also to just how formidable the Cardinal program is becoming.
Trivisonno, who is a former Cardinal himself, also competed at Bowling Green University and has been greatly recognized for his prowess as a head coach with numerous awards.
Trivisonno was named Lake County and Plain Dealer Coach of the Year in ‘98, ‘02 and ‘03. He was also named the Cleveland Browns’ Coach of the Year in ‘02 and ‘06, and the Northeast Ohio Div. I Coach of the Year in ‘02 and ‘03.
In addition to a talented group of student-athletes, it’s easy to see why the Cardinals are always at the doorstep of a championship. Trivisonno keeps his team focused and motivated, as evidenced by his three annual goals: Win the Lake Erie Division title outright (which he has done five times), win more than ten games (which has been done four times) and win a state championship (the last item to check off on the list).
And in ’08, the Cardinals are once again in supreme position to compete for the Div. I championship with a strong showing so far this season. Although Mentor dropped early season contests to St. Ignatius and Strongsville, two state powers, expect these Cardinals, with Trivisonno at the helm, to be playing deep into the season once again.
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